2014-2015 Playbook

In-Class Physical Activity Breaks

Get all students active by adding short physical activity breaks during class every day. Pair this Play with the NFL Play 60 Challenge to get students excited!


Three- to five- minute breaks at the beginning or in the middle of class can get everyone energized and moving and it's proven to help students stay focused on learning in the process!

This Play has all you need to motivate the entire school!
We have engaged in physical activity breaks throughout the school year for a minimum of 15 minute breaks in each class. Teachers and students embraced the opportunity to move, refuel their energy and be able to refocus on academic tasks following these breaks.


  • Huddle up with your Principal to give your plan a thumbs up and support the idea with Teachers; Teachers to loop them in on how it works and get them to try it; and Students to get moving!
  • Make your case: Your first job is to get your Principal and some Teachers to say yes! Present them with information about how a short burst of physical activity can help students get focused and ready to learn-without disrupting the day.

    Use the Tools and Resources below to create a short presentation to share the research that makes this Play a winner.

    Highlight that these short activities - even if done in five-minute increments at the beginning or end of each hour in the school day - can help Students get up to half their recommended 60 minutes of activity over the course of the day (outside of P.E. class).
  • Get organized: Get a team of Students and P.E. Teachers, your School Wellness Committee and others to brainstorm short, easy activities that can be done in class without much equipment. Come up with ideas to get people moving in a fun and creative way without taking up a lot of time.
  • KICKOFF! Draft a few Teachers to try out your plan by joining the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge - a program that inspires kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day in school and at home-and tell other Teachers how it went.
  • Get the word out: Promote the plan with Students and Teachers by putting up signs about how it works and how much fun it is. Make morning announcements that highlight some classes that are making it happen. Get the word out on your school's website, blog or in your school's eNewsletter. Get some quotes from Students and Teachers who are cheering it on. Consider starting each class period with a one-minute, campus-wide activity. Time it right before the period starts to give Students an incentive to get to class on time.
  • Promote it at home: Make sure Parents know about this Play and encourage Students to continue the idea at home. Take a quick break during homework or chores, or add a family component before or after meal time!
  • Get Feedback: Ask Students to make comments and choose their favorite activities. Take a poll or ask Students to leave comments for the team in a "comment box" in the P.E. office. Ask Teachers about what works best for their classes. Ask Students: by getting active in class, are you changing your activity habits outside of school, too?

This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!


Playbook Polling Resources (Activity Planning Poll Questions)
In-School Activity Breaks Ideas
NFL Stretches and Calisthenics


Research on brain activity shows that even a short period of physical activity, like a 20-minute walk, increases overall brain activity in students taking tests afterward. Learn more here.


In-School Activity Breaks

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Differentiating Instruction for Students with Disabilities

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How Physical Fitness May Promote School Success

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Innovative Programs Boost Students' Fitness

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Pro Football Hall of Fame Education Resources

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Active Academics®

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Active Living Research Brief: Do Short Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work?

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The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance

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NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Resources for Teachers

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